Paying a visit to On ultra-trail athlete Germain Graingier isn’t easy. He lives deep in the Mercantour region of the French Alps. It’s the middle of nowhere. But that didn’t deter the team from Mr. Porter from getting their report. Intent on seeing Germain in his natural habit, they were rewarded with illuminating insight into the mind of an ultramarathoner.
Germain finished ninth at the 2019 Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc – the world’s most prestigious trail race. It was his first time competing on the epic 171 km (106-mile) course with it dizzying 10,000 meters (32808 feet) of elevation. In the Mr. Porter film (above), we learn what led Germain to run such unthinkable distances. And why he’ll probably never stop.
We caught up with him after filming wrapped to get his view on the experience. After all, a film crew in the Mercantour is not an everyday experience. And he doesn’t get many visitors…
Germain, the Mr. Porter film centers around the reason that you run. Is it something you’ve thought a lot about before?
“Yes, actually. The first thing is that running is really a lifestyle for me because it allows me to live somewhere in the mountains, far from the city. I feel like it gives me more time and for me time is very precious.
“Time is the most precious thing because it allows me to grow and learn new things. I think that running is the easiest way to move in the mountains and it gives me that time. That is why I run, first because I get the time and the mountain lifestyle, but also because it allows me to grow.”
In the film you speak about running as one of several tools you use to improve yourself. What are the others?
“Another tool I use to improve myself is music. I play a lot of music and it allows me to stay calm and relax. I also ski a lot and practise yoga.
“I began meditation and yoga three or four years ago and I think it helps me to stay focused on my training and to build a connection between my brain and my body. I often do yoga in the morning. I really like to do it right after I get out of bed. I try to do it three or four times per week but if I have more time I try to do it everyday.”
How was it having a film crew coming to your home – to your mountains? Could they keep up?
“Ha! Everything was well planned, so it was easy. I think I had a harder time following them than they did following me. It was quite funny to see so many people coming to shoot a video in such a tiny place, it was a funny contrast.
“I am known in the area as a trail runner, as the crazy man who runs all the time, skis all the time, runs at night, who never stops running. It’s kind of funny, when we ran into a few people during the filming they were interested and quite surprised at what was happening and why there was a van following me with a big crew. It was funny because this is not common at all.”
Is there something that makes running in your mountains more special than running in other locations?
“The area where I live is very remote and small, but it’s quite close to Nice airport which is cool, only about 90 minutes away. Living here, I actually don’t have a lot of contact with other humans. This helps me to really focus on my training and my body and not get distracted. This is where I get the best training and the most interesting workouts because I am really dedicated to it. I like training every day in a place that I love.
“It is really pure. I can interact with the environment and the energy around me. I also like that there are a tonne of animals because there is almost nobody here. I like to observe the animals and their techniques for moving in the mountains. I try to get inspired by them.”
Talking of animals, your dog Ranco has a cameo in the film. Does he often your buddy for exploring the mountains?
“Most of the time Ranco lives with my parents on the coast. He is a Riviera dog. But he likes to hang out in the mountains as well. Now he’s almost eight years old, so he’s getting older and I don’t want to take him on big runs that might hurt him. He likes to do small runs but mostly he loves the cuddling sessions after the run.”
Get the Route
In the film we see run Germain run his local section of the GR5 trail, which in its entirety runs from the Netherlands all the way to the South of France. If you’re experienced on technical trails, you can follow in his footsteps here: